1935 Alberta general election

← 1930 August 22, 1935 (1935-08-22) 1940 →

63 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
32 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party Third party
W aberhart.jpg
David Milwyn Duggan.JPG
Leader William Aberhart (de facto) William R. Howson David M. Duggan
Party Social Credit Liberal Conservative
Leader since September 3, 1935 October 21, 1932 1930
Leader's seat Did not run Edmonton Edmonton
Last election pre-creation 11 seats, 24.6% 6 seats, 14.8%
Seats before 0 13 6
Seats won 56 5 2
Seat change Increase56 Decrease8 Decrease4
Popular vote 163,700 69,845 19,358
Percentage 54.2% 23.1% 6.4%
Swing Decrease1.5% Decrease8.4%

  Fourth party Fifth party
Richard Reid.jpg
Fred J. White c.1929.jpg
Leader Richard G. Reid Fred J. White
Party United Farmers Labour
Leader since 1934 between 1921 & 1926
Leader's seat Vermilion (lost re-election)
Last election 39 seats, 39.4% 4 seats, 7.6%
Seats before 36 4
Seats won 0 0
Seat change Decrease36 Decrease4
Popular vote 33,063 5,086
Percentage 11.0% 1.7%
Swing Decrease28.4% Decrease5.9%

Premier before election

Richard G. Reid
United Farmers

Premier after election

William Aberhart
Social Credit

The 1935 Alberta general election was held on August 22, 1935, to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The newly founded Social Credit Party of Alberta won a sweeping victory, unseating the 14-year government of the United Farmers of Alberta. It was one of only five times that Alberta has changed governments.

Premier John E. Brownlee had resigned on July 10, 1934, when he was sued and found liable for the seduction of a young clerk working in the Attorney-General's office. Although the verdict was immediately set aside by the presiding judge, the scandal seriously damaged the UFA's reputation among socially conservative Albertans. Provincial Treasurer Richard G. Reid succeeded him, but was unable to change the party's fortunes.

Social Credit won 56 of the 63 seats in the legislature, and over 50% of the popular vote, well beyond even the most optimistic Socred projections. Many of those gains came at the expense of the UFA, which lost all of its seats in one of the worst defeats ever suffered by a provincial government in Canada. Reid and Brownlee, for instance, were heavily defeated by Socred challengers, with Reid being pushed into third place.

The UFA's wipeout happened just a month after the Prince Edward Island Tories lost all 18 of their seats at that year's provincial election. A similar wipeout would not happen again until the 1987 New Brunswick general election, when the governing New Brunswick Tories lost all 39 of their seats.

The Alberta Liberals in this election ran with the tactically fatal slogan, the "rest of Canada can't be wrong"—referring to the popularity of the Liberal Party in the rest of the country. It did not work; they had their seat count cut in half. However, due to the UFA being swept from the legislature, the Liberals wound up as the Official Opposition. The Conservatives lost four of their six seats.

The Socreds' expectations for the election had been so low that they had not even named a formal leader for the campaign. When the newly elected Socred MLAs held their first caucus meeting, the first order of business was to select a leader and premier-designate. The obvious choice was the party's founder and guiding force, Calgary-based Baptist pastor William Aberhart. Persuaded to accept the mantle of leadership, Aberhart was sworn in as premier on September 3.

This provincial election, like the previous two, saw district-level proportional representation (Single transferable voting) used to elect the MLAs of Edmonton and Calgary. City-wide districts were used to elect multiple MLAs in the cities. All the other MLAs were elected in single-member districts through Instant-runoff voting.

The turnout of the 1935 election topped 80%, and no election in Alberta has come close to this mark.

This election campaign is seen as the most negative in Alberta's history, with reports of Social Credit members, operating openly and on Aberhart's directives, defacing the campaign signs of opponents and drowning their speeches by honking car horns. Many campaign ads also focused mostly on attacking the opposing parties.

After the 1935 election results were in, newspapers across North America took notice, with the Boston Herald running the headline "Alberta Goes Crazy!".[1]

This shift marked the first in Social Credit's nine consecutive election victories, for a total of 36 years in office–one of the longest unbroken runs in government in the Commonwealth. The UFA never recovered from this wipeout defeat, and withdrew from politics altogether in 1937.


Overall voter turnout was 81.8%, the highest in Alberta history.[2]

1935 Alberta general election[3]
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1930 1935 % Change # % % Change
Social Credit William Aberhart 63   56   163,700 54.25%  
Liberal William Howson 61 11 5 -54.5% 69,845 23.14% -1.45%
Conservative David Milwyn Duggan 39 6 2 -66.7% 19,358 6.41% -8.44%
United Farmers Richard G. Reid 45 39 - -100% 33,063 11.00% -28.41%
Communist Jan Lakeman 9   -   5,771 1.91%  
Labour Fred J. White 11 4 - -100% 5,086 1.68% -5.95%
  Independent 7 3 - -100% 2,740 0.90% -12.62%
  Independent Liberal 1   -   955 0.31%  
United Front 1   -   560 0.19%  
  Independent Conservative 1   -   258 0.08%  
  Independent Labour 1   -   224 0.07%  
Reconstruction Elsie Wright 1   -   192 0.06%  
Total 240 63 63 - 301,752 100%  
Popular vote
Social Credit
Seats summary
Social Credit

Members elected

For complete electoral history, see individual districts

8th Alberta Legislative Assembly
  District Member Party
  Acadia Norman James Social Credit
  Alexandra Selmer Berg Social Credit
  Athabasca Clarence Tade Social Credit
  Beaver River Lucien Maynard Social Credit
  Bow Valley Wilson Cain Social Credit
  Calgary Edith Gostick Social Credit
  Ernest Manning Social Credit
  John Irwin Conservative
  Fred Anderson Social Credit
  John J. Bowlen Liberal
  John Hugill Social Credit
  Camrose William Chant Social Credit
  Cardston Nathan Eldon Tanner Social Credit
  Clover Bar Floyd Baker Social Credit
  Cochrane William King Social Credit
  Coronation Glenville MacLachlan Social Credit
  Cypress August Flamme Social Credit
  Didsbury Edward P. Foster Social Credit
  Drumheller Herbert Ingrey Social Credit
  Edmonton William Howson Liberal
  Samuel Barnes Social Credit
  George Van Allen Liberal
  David Milwyn Duggan Conservative
  David Mullen Social Credit
  Gerald O'Connor Liberal
  Edson Joseph Unwin Social Credit
  Empress David Lush Social Credit
  Gleichen Isaac McCune Social Credit
  Grande Prairie William Sharpe Social Credit
  Grouard Leonidas Giroux Liberal
  Hand Hills Wallace Warren Cross Social Credit
  Innisfail Alban MacLellan Social Credit
  Lac Ste. Anne Albert Bourcier Social Credit
  Lacombe Duncan MacMillan Social Credit
  Leduc Ronald Ansley Social Credit
  Lethbridge Hans Wight Social Credit
  Little Bow Peter Dawson Social Credit
  Macleod James Hartley Social Credit
  Medicine Hat John Lyle Robinson Social Credit
  Nanton-Claresholm Harry Haslam Social Credit
  Okotoks-High River William Morrison Social Credit
  Olds Herbert Ash Social Credit
  Peace River William Lampley Social Credit
  Pembina Harry Knowlton Brown Social Credit
  Pincher Creek Roy Taylor Social Credit
  Ponoka Edith Rogers Social Credit
  Red Deer Alfred Hooke Social Credit
  Ribstone Albert Blue Social Credit
  Rocky Mountain Ernest Duke Social Credit
  Sedgewick Albert Fee Social Credit
  St. Albert Charles Holder Social Credit
  St. Paul Joseph Beaudry Social Credit
  Stettler Charles Cockroft Social Credit
  Stony Plain William Hayes Social Credit
  Sturgeon James Popil Social Credit
  Taber James Hansen Social Credit
  Vegreville James McPherson Social Credit
  Vermilion William Fallow Social Credit
  Victoria Samuel Calvert Social Credit
  Wainwright William Masson Social Credit
  Warner Solon Low Social Credit
  Wetaskiwin John Wingblade Social Credit
  Whitford William Tomyn Social Credit


  1. ^ Elliott, David R.; Miller, Iris (1987). Bible Bill: A Biography of William Aberhart. Edmonton: Reidmore Books. ISBN 0-919091-44-X.
  2. ^ Election Alberta (July 28, 2008). 2008 General Report (PDF). p. 158. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  3. ^ "Alberta provincial election results". Elections Alberta. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2009.

Further reading

Party platforms

See also